SPARTANBURG, S.C. (courtesy converse.edu) — As part of her South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (SCICU) grant, Samantha Jaccard ’22, spent her summer getting firsthand experience in the field with faculty mentor Dr. Doug Jensen and fellow student Madelyn “Maddy” West ’22.
Read about Samantha’s experience:
“Over the summer we went to Hobcaw Barony to conduct field work and make collections of the local flora and ferns of the old rice field plantation in Georgetown, S.C. We stayed in the cabins they had there and were out for four days on each of the three trips we went on. We worked out in the field come rain, shine, or humidity. Flies and mosquitos were not our friends, but that just made it more exciting.
Directly after a torrential downpour, we were taken by a professor at Clemson to walk a “boardwalk” over a swamp deep in the plantation. This boardwalk was quite literally just that: one board. Thankfully we all had very good balance and did not fall in. The walk was fruitful and we found Azolla, a tiny scaled water fern! We trudged through swamps, forests, lawns, cypress groves, and down overgrown trails. We were caught in a thunderstorm, ran to the car when we heard wild boars in the forest, played with fiddler crabs, spied deer, tree frogs, turkeys, and the boars themselves.
In the morning, we would pack up the car and head out into the forest and return to the cabin for lunch before heading back out again. We took a camera, spades, bags, presses, and everything we needed for collecting the plants. While some ferns tend to wilt faster than others after pulling them from the ground, I would open the press in the back seat of the SUV and press them while Dr. Jensen drove us to our next location. My research partner, Maddie West, took pictures before we went in and collected the plants and she made notes in the collection notebook for future reference.
When we were not in the field, we were at the beach down the road from the plantation or hanging out in the cabin. We read books, watched movies, and had a great time together!
Converse gave me the resources I needed that readied me for this research opportunity. By taking the Systematic Botany class, I had experience being in the field myself and collecting plants on my own for a grade. As a biology major, my science courses have taught me how to be a problem solver and how to keep cool when the going gets a little uncomfortable.
I came into research understanding that it was not going to be picture perfect and not always how we expect things to pan out. The biology classes I have taken really helped me in my understanding of that. Converse also gave me the opportunity to be a participant in such an amazing experience and for that, I am forever grateful.”